Real wedding: Sandra + Nate

What really sold me on this wedding was the incredible space, the white lanterns, and the overall modern feel of the whole shebang!  Sandra gives all the details below…enjoy!
We met on April 3rd, 2009 at a friend’s birthday party.  After six wonderful months of dating, we were engaged.

We had only three months to plan our wedding (due to our choice of venue and their availability). A bit ambitious, however we were confident we could pull it off, even without a wedding planner.   We wanted a relaxed, sophisticated, and contemporary vibe with wonderful food, drinks, and entertainment. We wanted to throw a fun party. We didn’t realize it at the time we booked our venue, but we had chosen to get married exactly one yearfrom the date we met. Serendipitous!

The ball starts rolling

On a business trip to Minneapolis two months after we got engaged, we decided on a whim to check out wedding dresses at Macy’s. Despite thinking there would be nothing but disappointment at a traditional department store, I was stunned that they had one of three dresses I had bookmarked when perusing dresses online for ideas – a Vera Wang. This one was the favorite, and was offered at a deep discount during a floor sample sale. Lucky! The sales lady insisted the alterations could be done before we left town…in three days. Done. (The husband-to-be already had a dapper Hugo Boss suit, coincidentally also purchased at a Macy’s years ago).

Less than a month later, on January 2nd, we decided to look for a wedding venue in Chicago, the city where we live and met. We were hoping for a one stop deal where we could have the ceremony and reception at the same place, to get the fullest use of our short day and to make things easier for our out-of-town guests. We also wanted a place that was unique, modern, and not too big for our small wedding, and we were cognizant that a space’s decor (or lack thereof) could make or break a photo. So we called one of our top contenders, Prairie Production, and we were able to see it that day. It was a blank slate: white walls, some with exposed white brick, concrete floors, and the best part, enormous floor to ceiling windows facing south that allowed for beautiful natural lighting. As a bonus, we liked the location because we had spent some time there on our first city photo excursion together. Booked.

Real planning begins

Photography is important to both of us and we did not want to compromise in this area.  Memories fade over the years and we wanted images that would bring us back emotionally.  After a lot of searching, we found a great photograher. Her work stood apart from the rest, and we liked that she had a fine art photography background. She was the only photographer we contacted, but when you know it’s right, it’s right.

Through phone calls, online searches and Yelp reviews, we selected four caterers.  Upon receiving bids, we elected to set up tastings with two.  We couldn’t have gone wrong with either caterer, making this one of the hardest decisions we had to make.  We finally decided chose Food for Thought, and they did great.
Instead of a cake, we decided to go with cupcakes. This allowed for a greater variety of flavors. Something for everyone.

Flowers were next on the agenda and we met with two vendors. With a few starting points from us, our florist created some beautiful arrangements. We opted for an arrangement that would complement a room with 22 foot ceilings that did not look out of place in such a contemporary setting.

After shopping around a bit for invitations, we decided to save some money by creating our own, along with RSVP cards, table cards, and escort cards. In the end they turned out well, but the design, printing and assembly was a lot of work.

For decorations, we had photos printed from our adventures together and matted them to hang along a long wall at the venue. We also designed and built pillars to hold illuminated pussy willows along the walls. Satisfying, but time-consuming.

For the following items, we were able to whittle down our choice in vendors so we only met with one in each area.  This saved us valuable time to work on the invitations and decorations…
For entertainment, we chose a string quartet to perform during the ceremony and cocktail hour.  The quartet was amazing and added a flavor of sophistication we were looking for.  We hired a deejay to provide music during dinner and dancing.
To perform the ceremony, we found a reverend that was non-denominational, but was spiritual.  We were impressed with him from day one.  He was extremely organized and detail oriented.  The ceremony was brief, yet relevant and thoughtful.
A dear friend who works in the lighting industry provided all of the lights at the venue.  The venue has dramatically high white walls, and the lighting was a perfect balance for the space.

The Wedding Day
Some say that something always goes wrong on the wedding day, but we were optimistic that things would be stellar.  We had confidence in our vendors and expected to spend the day relaxed, yet excited. The whirlwind of planning was coming to an end.  The early morning rain cleared up for pre-wedding photos. Blissful.

In Conclusion

We had such a wonderful time, and it was truly amazing to see everyone that is so important to us there in one place. Everyone we talked to afterward said they had fun, and some of our guests commented that everything reflected our style. Mission accomplished.

Venue: Prairie Production
Officiant: Bruce Otto

Catering: Food for Thought
String Quartet: Park West Strings
Cupcakes: Luscious Layers
Jewelry: Steve Quick
Dress: Vera Wang
Suit: Hugo Boss

[images from Olivia Leigh Photographie]

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Real wedding: Emily + Adam

We chose Bedell Cellars in the North Fork because we wanted a venue that reflected our love for the outdoors and wine, of course. Adam’s parents have been vacationing in the North Fork for years and we thought that it would be fun to introduce our friends and family to the wine country of Long Island at what we called a “mini-destination wedding” with a weekend of events in Greenport and Cutchogue. The house we rented in Greenport was a gorgeous restored boathouse from the 1800s with huge doors at either end of the house and was a great gathering spot for the wedding party all weekend.

Fortunately, Mother Nature cooperated on the day of the wedding and it couldn’t be any more glorious! The day was perfect in every way… good food, wine, friends and The Stingers had the entire party dancing from the minute they started. I absolutely loved the “Audiobooth” — I’ve watched it over and over again! We also set up a pie bar for dessert with five of our favorite fresh fruit pies from Briermere Farms in Riverhead, which was a big hit.

A piece of advice for brides-to-be is that the bridesmaids, my mom and I were so glad we had Merrell, the make-up artist, on hand for touch-ups throughout the night. She was fabulous and I felt like a million bucks. All of our vendors were incredible. Brooklyn Bride was a great resource and inspiration during the planning.


Dress – Lela Rose
Shoes – Jimmy Choo

Necklace – Badgley Mischka
Make-Up – Merrell Smith from Space NK

Groom’s Suit – Michael Andrews Bespoke

Bridemaid Dresses – J. Crew

Flowers – Denise Fasanello
Catering – Brent Newsom Catering

Cake & Pie Bar – Butta’ Cakes, Greenport; Briemere Farms, Riverhead
Cake Topper – Fancie Fannie’s (the topper includes our dog and cat!)

Music – The Stingers Band

Calligraphy – Goodhue Designs

Invitations, programs, table numbers, menus – I designed them, but the “Emily & Adam” logo was by Emilie Friday calligraphy and letterpress (for invites) was by Ajalon Printing.

Venue – Bedell Cellars
Photographer – Tory Williams

[images from Tory Williams Photography]

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Real wedding: Danielle + Stephen

Danielle sent me her adorable wedding with tons of charming details and I just had to share with you guys!  Check out her story below…

Stephen and I met, for the first time, when I was 11 and he was 13. After a year or so of friendship, we started dating in the spring of 2001 when I was 14 and he was 16, and we have been together since. He and I were married on September 26th 2009 in the backyard of our mutual childhood friend’s home.

I went to school for fine arts for 2 years and then transferred schools to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Interior Design and plan kitchens. Stephen is an Industrial Designer working as a Graphic Designer. He and I knew right away we would be doing most of it ourselves, and in our own unique way.

We started brainstorming about two years before the actual wedding. Deciding to choose the location first was the root of the entire wedding concept. We looked around Philadelphia and the suburbs of Southern New Jersey where we grew up, but couldn’t find a place that suited our personalities and our guest’s needs. After months of searching, we finally realized the only place we would ever want to be married was exactly where we had first fallen in love.


Stephen and I had mutual friends growing up and we often spent time in large groups, gathered around a bonfire, camping out under the stars, exploring the woods, and walking through miles of orchards. The center of all this growing and exploration was the backyard of our dear friends, who were brothers. Our group had a sort of headquarters in the shed there, where we had scavenged sofas and tables, and made ourselves a sort of home away from home. This was exactly where we had begun our love, and it felt only right to begin our marriage there as well.

Once we had the location the details started to come into focus. Stephen and I are both passionate about sustainability and supporting local small businesses. We are also blessed with a great family who loves to pitch in and help out where they can.

Favors and color:

The first thing we decided on was our favors, which also allowed us to settle on a color palette. We chose to give apples to our guests. It seems to be appropriate to the location, as we were being married adjacent to apple orchards. The colors of our wedding were gold and red, vibrant and seasonal.

Flags and fabrics:

Stephen and I also loved the charm of bunting flags, and quickly took to hunting for fabrics in the appropriate colors. We used vintage sheets and curtains, as well as store bought quilting fabrics. My oldest sister and I cut out hundreds of triangle flags on my mother’s living room floor from a template I created that allowed for a two inch block at the top of each triangle, which was lined with hem-tape, folded over the twine at certain intervals, and ironed down. The whole project probably took 12 hours from start to end, fifty dollars, and turned out to be one of my favorite details of the day.  We also used longer pieces of the same fabrics for table runners which my sister sewed down to size. The table cloths were inexpensive unbleached bedspreads and the napkins were red and white dishtowels from IKEA, where Stephen and I both work.

Plates and cups:

One of the more time consuming projects was the plate hunt. Stephen and I chose to buy mix-matched plates from thrift stores instead of renting or purchasing disposables. The cost was nearly the same as if we had rented and the search was great. My mom and I traveled all around South Jersey to the smallest thrift stores in the most hidden parts and gathered up hundreds of plates and mugs in coordinating browns, yellows, and oranges. In four months time we had more than enough to create beautiful, unique, place setting for every guest. The cutlery was purchased at IKEA for cheap, and was divvied up throughout the family after the wedding was over. Also, at each place setting were two mason jars, one large for dinner drinks and one small for wine. We purchased all of them at a bulk supply store for around seventy-five dollars and resold them afterwards.

Keeping it local- Wine and food:

Down the road from the site of our wedding is Heritage’s farm stand and winery and sticking with our hopes to keep the wedding as local as possible we wanted to source what we could from there. I contacted Rich Heritage, who I went through elementary and high-school with and whose family owns the farm, and we worked out a great deal on wine. We had blueberry, peach, and red wine on all the tables. We also purchased all of the apples for our favors from the same place. I enlisted the help of my two nieces, who were also the ring bearers, and on the morning before the wedding we drove to Heritage’s and loaded up bags with over 120 fresh picked apples. They were three for a dollar. Steal.

We met with a few caterers in regards to dinner, but no one could satisfy our concern with local food, with controlled ingredients, and a small budget. I asked my Aunt, whose parents own an Italian food company in Southern New Jersey if she would be able to help with the food, and, of course, she was more than willing to help out, and inevitably gave us the food as our wedding gift. I grew up eating this food at family gatherings, and it felt amazing to be able to enjoy the same dishes at my own wedding, and share that part of my life with Stephen’s family.

For desert we wanted a big desert table with seasonal pies and doughnuts from a local farm market. Our wedding cake was actually a pumpkin pie. My aunt and cousin made pumpkin bread and I made cupcakes. We also had a big assortment of cheeses, fruits, breads, and vegetables set out all night. The cheese, breads, and fruits came from Whole Foods, while most of the vegetables came from local farms. What we did purchase through the grocery store had local origins.

Rentals and organization:

When it came to rentals, we hoped to keep costs down as much as possible, as they can be incredibly costly. Stephen and I measured out the backyard and I created a plan for tents and ceremony seating that would fit all of our guests and maximize the views around the property. We put the drinks (local beers, water, and soda) under a smaller tent with the DJ, to keep from creating a traffic jam near the food area. My uncle, father, and husband built frames for the rental tables tops to contain the ice and provide as dividers for the different beers.

I placed everyone at three long tables, rather than splitting up the guests and it created a more familial feeling in the tent.

Stephen and I sat in the center of the middle table, and could see everyone from our seats. We lit the tents with Christmas lights and lanterns made from mason jars. Lot’s of lanterns. It was a pretty drizzly day, though it held off through the ceremony. The Christmas lights and lanterns gave off just the right type of warm light to keep the mood in the tents cozy and festive.

We also rented a portable bathroom. It was a trailer with a men and womens bathroom, which were pristine, and amazingly looked like real bathrooms. My older sister’s friends own the company, and gave us a super good deal on the rental.

Ceremony details:

When faced with the obstacle of ceremony seating, I remembered seeing an image of hay bales used for a wedding on a blog at some point in our research. My mom sourced some hay bales from a dairy farm close by, we purchased them at half-cost, and the farm removed them from the site a few days after the wedding. So, we rented hay bales for 2.00 each and each bale sat 2 or 3 people. We set them up semi-circular around a big old tree, and were married underneath. On the guest book table we put out a bucket with blankets and fabric in it for people to sit on, or cozy up under, since it did get a little chilly. I also made a smaller version of the bunting flags for the ceremony area with scraps of fabric from the tent buntings. They were cute and useful, helping to create a visual barrier behind the ceremony site.

Ceremony music was performed by two good friends. We let them choose what they wanted to play and were surprised with a beautiful acoustic version of the tradition wedding march. It was perfect. My father, as a gift, hired a bag-piper to play as guests arrived. Both Stephen and I are partly, or mostly, Irish, and it was a great and sentimental way to give a nod to our similar heritages.  Stephen’s cousin married us after becoming ordained online. It was a great way to be able to customize our vows, and create a truly sacred trust between us and the officiate.


Stephen created the layout for all of the graphics used at the wedding. Through we used the digital printer for our save the dates and seating cards, we screen-printed our own invites and R.S.V.P cards. This was incredibly stressful and time consuming but totally worth it in the end. We cut down the paper we printed on and I hand wrote on all the envelopes. For the place cards we used price tags, set our printer on the smallest photo setting we could, and manually fed each one through. Stephen is a patient man, and I am very lucky. I couldn’t have done that 240 times. But he did. We tied the place cards to twine on the side of the tent opposite the food, and guests cut their names down and found their corresponding seat at one of the three tables. All of the graphic communication was a big part of our preparing for the wedding. It took a lot of time and patience and a pretty talented husband to complete it in time, without an delays, or melt-downs.

Table details:

On the tables we had centerpieces made from flowers that my sisters, cousin, and I gathered the day before from grocery and flower stores all around our town. It made for a fun night of cutting and arranging our own centerpieces. We chose different types of flowers in a similar color range. I also made my bouquet and my sisters bouquets. Another little detail on the tables was my mother’s extensive salt and pepper shaker collection. Stephen and I thought about buying salt and pepper shakers, and then remember my mother has dozens of them on a shelf in her kitchen. So we loaded them up and dispersed them around. It was fun to see them at the wedding, having grown up with them in the kitchen at home.


Stephen enjoyed the hunt for his outfit, pants and jacket from H & M. He wanted to wear something fun, and bold, and non-traditional. So, red pants were right on track with that concept. His Best-Man, and step-father, wore a suit he already owned. My sisters, and Maids of Honor, chose their own dresses. They are very different from one another and I knew that the only way to highlight their personalities and allow them to be as comfortable as they could be was so let them do their own shopping. And they did a great job. My nieces’ dresses both came from Urban Outfitters, and they loved them very much. They’re pretty fun, creative, spunky young ladies, and we agreed on the colored tights instead of flesh colored stockings. My dress and necklace came from J-crew. I loved it online, ordered it, and had a local costume maker do the alterations. It was perfect. My dear friend did my mothers, sisters, and my hair. I did my nieces.

Our photographer was someone we went to high school with who has become an amazing wedding photographer since. He is teamed up with his brilliant wife, and they captured our day perfectly. Stephen and I knew they were they only people we would trust with our day and we were so happy with the results. It was the second most costly part of our wedding, but so worth it.

After the wedding: Two weeks after the wedding Stephen and I relocated to Portland, Oregon where we live now and are expecting our first baby in August.

Some links to our sources.



Hay Bales:


[images from M-2 Photography]

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Real wedding: Julie + Hugh

Julie & Hugh did a really great job keeping their wedding minimal but modern…just how I like it!

Catering:  Yen Ngo of Real Foods Catering. Amazing! We cannot praise her enough.  Incredible food, very cool staff, and she became our defacto (mellow and fun to work with) wedding planner

Cake: One Girl Bakery in Brooklyn (they provided the cookie take home gifts too). Our cake was banana with chocolate ganache middle and cream cheese frosting : )

Flowers:  Melarosa (excellent – great value for money)

Dress:  Monique Lhullier

Hair:  Crystophe Marten

[images from Dreamscape Studio]

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Shotgun wedding: Nadia + Benjamin

Nadia and Benjamin decided to get married on a whim in Williamsburg Brooklyn at Berry Park, apparently a very cool beer garden with a super-duper roof top.  Very low key, lots of friends and family, and most importantly, cupcakes!  Their friend, Charles David and his wife captured the day.

[images from A Wrinkle in Time Photography]

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